AUSTIN, Texas - Governor Greg Abbott said Texas will work to "eliminate all rapists" in order to prevent victims from having to carry an attackers’ baby.
The governor was responding to a question about why he would sign a bill that forces a victim to carry her rapists’ baby to term. "It doesn’t require that at all, because, obviously, it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion," Abbott said in response.
Now law, SB8 allows outside parties to sue someone who is involved in or performs an abortion once a doctor is able to detect a heartbeat. Most healthcare providers agree a fetal heartbeat can usually be detected between five and six weeks of gestation.
"It takes survivors of sexual assault a lot of time to disclose, a lot of time to come to terms with their experience, and even to recall the full details of their experience. And so, it is likely that a survivor may or may not be immediately aware of a pregnancy, or may just need time to make that decision," said Laura Palumbo, communications director for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
The governor said he's going to stop rapes, so there aren't any more victims.
"Rape is a crime and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out, arresting them, and prosecuting and getting them off the streets," Abbott said.
According to Austin's Public Safety Commission, in 2017, the Austin Police Department reported about 830 rapes. Only 81 cases of sexual assault made it to court in Travis County that year.
"Effective prosecution of sexual assault cases is only going to be impacting those very few cases that are reported to law enforcement, that are properly investigated and then a prosecutor pursues, which, unfortunately, is a really limited representation of the number of sexual assault cases in our country," said Palumbo.
The governor also added that he will continue to support organizations that provide resourcees to rape survivors. However, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center said one of the best ways to help a survivor is to allow them to make their own decisions to address their trauma.
"So, one of the things that we know is very important to survivors of sexual assault is to be able to have as many choices and options available to them as possible. In the aftermath of an assault, they lose so much power through the trauma of an assault that has happened to them. And, so, for them to face limited options is very harmful for survivors of sexual assault," Palumbo said.
Monday, the U.S. Attorney General vowed to preserve access to abortions and said the Justice Department is urgently exploring options to challenge SB8.